Alcohol advisory committee begins work at Fresno State

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Alcohol advisory committee begins work at Fresno State

President John D. Welty has named a 16-member Alcohol Advisory Council of campus and community members who will review and make recommendations to him on policies, programs and goals regarding alcohol use at California State University, Fresno.

The new council is an outgrowth of the systemwide recommendations of the final report by the CSU Alcohol Policies and Prevention Programs Committee in July. Welty chaired the committee, whose main recommendation was to develop comprehensive alcohol policies and programs.

Dr. Judy Sakaki, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, will chair Fresno State’s council, which will include subcommittees on policies and compliance, educational programs and publicity, and assessment.

Vice chairman Sam Gitchel, health educator with the University Health and Psychological Services, said he is pleased that the CSU system is addressing the issue and using the “social norms” approach.

Social norms uses information campaigns to correct student misperceptions of peers’ drinking habits. For example, at Fresno State most students drink moderately or not at all, according to a survey last spring. But when asked, students believe their peers are heavy drinkers. That’s a false norm, and students will conform to that unless they get information to the contrary, Gitchel said.

“This is about getting out correct information, not wagging a finger at students,” he said.

“Social norms holds hope of making a difference in student drinking behavior,” Gitchel said. “Successful campuses have seen roughly 20 percent reductions in heavy drinking after a couple of years.”

The National College Health Assessment, administered to 731 randomly selected Fresno State students during spring 2001 semester, also found that heavy drinking is not the problem here that it is at other universities. The spring study found Fresno State student drinking norms are healthier than those of students nationwide: 80 percent of Fresno students were legally sober the last time they partied, compared with 61 percent of college students in a national reference group.

The CSU policy calls for each campus to gather data every two years to determine if its policies and programs are achieving the desired outcomes, and report findings to the chancellor and trustees.

In addition to Sakaki and Gitchel, other committee members are: Mark Aydelotte, assistant vice president for university relations; Lynn Button, university police chief; Connan Campbell, student activities and leadership development; Benjamin Cuellar, dean of the College of Health and Human Services; Suzan Griffin, Fresno State Parents Association; Robert Hernandez, university judicial affairs officer; Ryan Jacobsen, president of Associated Students Inc.; Karen Johnson, director of University Courtyard housing; Sandra Witte , representing the Academic Senate’s Student Affairs Committee; Scott Johnson, interim athletic director; Ken Dodd, Fresno Police Department; Ryan Donaghy, Donaghy Sales; John Shegarian, Bulldog Brewery; and Susan Thompson, Fresno County Human Services System.